The Hawker Hurricane is often cited as the unsung hero of the Battle of Britain and undoubtedly played an incredibly important part in Britain’s air defence during the early years of the war. The Hurricane, unlike the Spitfire saw relatively little development in terms of engine and airframe changes throughout the conflict. This didn’t stop the Hawker design taking on many varied roles during the Second World War.
As the Second World War pressed on it became clear that something would have to be done to protect the supply convoys which were crossing the Atlantic everyday in order to resupply and support the war effort in Europe. Focke-Wulf FW200 Condors were causing havoc amongst the shipping lines and the ships defences were nothing to stop them.
Clearly an aircraft would be the best method of defence, but no aircraft carriers were readily available at the time to patrol the area. It quickly became apparent that the only solution would be to catapult aircraft from the Merchant ships. One aircraft chosen for the job was the Hurricane. These early examples, launched from catapults gained the nickname “Hurricat”. This variant was known as the Sea Hurricane 1a and claimed its first victory in August 1941. The main flaw with these early operations was that their was no recovery plan, meaning the aircraft had to be ditched once their duties were complete.
Eventually more suitable vessels, such as HMS Furious became available and the Sea Hurricanes were able to operate from conventional decks. This led to the conversion of Mk. I Hurricanes including the fitting of an arrestor hook to aid deck landings.
The Sea Hurricane was an important development and played a key part in the Atlantic convoys early air defence before carriers and aircraft were developed further. The Shuttleworth collection is home to an airworthy example of the Mk. 1b – Z7015. This aircraft was built in Canada in 1940 as a standard Mk.I airframe, before being converted to Sea Hurricane standard in June 1941.
Beyond this conversion date, there is little known about this airframe’s service career. The collection acquired the aircraft in 1961. In 1969, the airframe was featured as a static aircraft in the Battle of Britain film. After a number of years in varying states of restoration, work began in earnest in 1981 when Z7015 was transferred to the Duxford Aviation Society. The Sea Hurricane finally took to the skies again after a long restoration in September 1995. Since that day this aircraft has been a key part of the Shuttleworth Collection and has always been displayed in an impressive style paying tribute to one of many unsung roles that this legendary design performed.